A woman was killed and two other people were hurt on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County, Maryland, early Sunday after two drivers rear-ended a minivan, authorities said. The driver who hit the minivan first was taken into custody on suspicion of impaired driving.
Sandra Lorena Morales De Arevala was the victim, Maryland State Police said in a statement. She was 35.
According to an initial investigation, the driver of a 2015 Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a 2007 Toyota Sienna on northbound I-270 south of Montrose Road. Both vehicles “came to a stop on the interstate,” police said in a statement.
The driver and two of the five other passengers in the Toyota stayed in the minivan, which was severely damaged and unable to be moved from the highway.
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The driver of a 2015 Chevrolet Cruze that also was headed north tried to swerve out of the way of the stopped vehicles but rear-ended the Toyota, police said.
State troopers responded at about 3:35 a.m. Morales De Arevala was declared dead at the scene. The two other people in the Toyota, both male, was taken to a trauma center for treatment. Police did not release their ages.
The driver of the Tesla was taken into custody on suspicion of impaired driving. 1st Sgt. Mike Taluskie told News4 that to his knowledge, the Tesla driver failed a field sobriety test.
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The driver was released after troopers consulted with county prosecutors, police said. The investigation is ongoing.
“Once the investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine what charges should be filed in this case,” police said a statement.
Police did not say whether any autopilot features available on Teslas built after September 2014 may have been in use at the time of the initial crash.
Taluskie, the state police sergeant, had a message for drivers: “In the event that you’re in an accident and you’re in the middle of the roadway, [you need] to try to get as safely off the roadway as quickly as possible.”